12 Best Places to Live in Illinois (For Highest Quality of Life)

by Jem
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Illinois is much more than a midwestern gem; it’s a tapestry of rich farmland, vibrant cities, and historical landmarks. From the architectural marvels of Chicago to the tranquil cornfields and college towns, the Prairie State offers a unique blend of urban and rural living. Yet, with its considerable diversity, finding the ideal place to settle down might seem overwhelming. To assist you in your search, I’ve crafted a guide to the best places to live in Illinois.

Having journeyed through Illinois myself, I’ve witnessed firsthand the state’s varied charm. From the iconic city of Chicago along Lake Michigan to the quaint, historic ambiance of Springfield, Illinois’s variety is truly compelling. Whether you’re captivated by the urban sophistication of the Windy City, the historical significance of Lincoln’s hometown, or the serene, open spaces of the countryside, Illinois has a spot that seems tailor-made for you.

But where should you begin? The perfect location differs for each person. Some may prioritize proximity to Chicago’s cultural scene, others might seek out the best schools in suburban enclaves, and for many, an affordable cost of living is key.

Join me as I delve into the finest cities and towns to call home, tailored to what matters most to you. As someone who has navigated the state’s various offerings, I’m here to steer you through the best places to live in Illinois. I’ve poured over research, analyzed data, and engaged with residents to curate a list that accommodates a range of preferences and budgets. Let’s get started!

The top places to live in Illinois for all

The Best Places to Live in Illinois           

Eager to uncover the most picturesque places to call home in Illinois? Nestled in the heart of the Midwest, Illinois offers a locale for every preference. Continue on to unearth the top living destinations in the Prairie State.

In search of your perfect Illinois haven? Whether it’s urban excitement or peaceful suburbia you’re after, Illinois has a place that will fit the bill.

  • Best for family living: Bannockburn
  • Best for community engagement: Buffalo Grove
  • Best for safety: Clarendon Hills
  • Best for university life: Evanston
  • Best for upscale living: Hinsdale
  • Best for spacious estates: Inverness
  • Best for nature lovers: Kildeer
  • Best for corporate professionals: Lincolnshire
  • Best for education and research: Lisle
  • Best for rural charm: Long Grove
  • Best for vibrant suburban life: Naperville
  • Best for small-town feel: Western Springs

Below, you’ll find the prime spots to live in this central U.S. state that deserve your attention.

1. Bannockburn

Finding Bannockburn is like finding a Midwestern hidden gem. It is a place where peace and group spirit are important ways to live. It’s not just one of the best places to live in Illinois; this town is a little piece of suburban heaven. Residents can enjoy privacy without giving up the sense of being part of a close-knit community thanks to the large estates and lush green areas.

Here, schools are regularly ranked as some of the best in the country, which makes it a great place for families. There are cute shops and fancy restaurants in the area that cater to people who like the nicer things in life. Safety is very important, and Bannockburn provides it. It’s a peaceful place that many people want to call home.

Bannockburn is appealing because it cares about protecting nature. The town has many parks and trails that make it easy to enjoy the outdoors and live a healthy life. You can always find something beautiful in nature there, just around the corner.

Bannockburn is the best city to live in Illinois for people who want to live somewhere that is both sophisticated and has the warmth of a small town. There’s a quality of life there that’s hard to find elsewhere. Every street and house tells a story of pride and beauty.

Discovering Bannockburn is a community that values harmony and camaraderie in daily life.
Discovering Bannockburn is a community that values harmony and camaraderie in daily life.

2. Buffalo Grove

Think of a place where the energy of the city and the beauty of the suburbs mix perfectly. That’s Buffalo Grove. It’s one of the coolest places to live in Illinois because there are so many fun things to do and the town life is so active. Community events, like summer festivals and farmers’ markets, keep the town’s heart beating. These events make sure that there’s always something for both locals and tourists to do.

There are high standards for education here, and many schools have great academic records, which attracts families who want to make learning a priority for their children. The dedication to education can be seen in the well-kept parks and community centers, which are great places for kids and adults to learn and grow.

Another thing that makes Buffalo Grove great is how easy it is to get to; it’s close to Chicago while still having a quiet neighborhood feel. Professionals who want to get away from the noise and chaos of the city and relax in peace will love this spot.

Buffalo Grove is one of the best places to live in Illinois, and for good reason. It has a great mix of community, schools, and location. The town doesn’t just exist; it lives and grows with a lively spirit and a friendly heart.

Due to the abundance of enjoyable activities and the vibrant town life, Buffalo Grove is among the best locations to live in Illinois.
Due to the abundance of enjoyable activities and the vibrant town life, Buffalo Grove is among the best locations to live in Illinois.

3. Clarendon Hills

Clarendon Hills is a haven for people who love both the small-town feel and high-class living. It is tucked away in the middle of Illinois’s busy state capital. Due to its beautiful streets lined with cozy homes and a variety of shops that reflect the sophisticated tastes of the locals, this town is frequently praised as one of the best places in Illinois to live.

This town’s schools are absolutely fantastic, and they prepare the younger people who live here for a bright future. It is a place where doing well in school is expected and there are many chances to learn new things. The town’s dedication to learning and culture is shown by its library, which is a hub of information and community events.

In Clarendon Hills, recreation includes both outdoor sports and getting together with other people. There are more than just green spaces in the town parks. They are busy places where families and friends can get together in nature.

Living in Clarendon Hills is like living in a comfortable, stylish home. It’s a nice city to live in Illinois. The community makes you feel welcome and promises a good life full of happiness.

For those who enjoy living in a posh neighborhood and in a tiny town, Clarendon Hills is a paradise.
For those who enjoy living in a posh neighborhood and in a tiny town, Clarendon Hills is a paradise.

4. Evanston

Evanston is a coastal gem on the shores of Lake Michigan. Its history is woven together with academic and artistic lines. It’s where smart people and new ideas come together. It’s home to Northwestern University and a lively town that values education and cultural diversity. This city is more than just a college town; it’s one of the best places to live in Illinois for people who want to live in a lively and interesting area.

Evanston’s streets are full of unique restaurants, art galleries, and stages that show how open and accepting the city is. With beaches and trails that offer beautiful views and a breath of fresh air, you can rent lake house cabins for a peaceful place to get away.

Connectivity is another plus. Public transportation works well, and roads that are bike-friendly make traveling easy. The city’s image as a forward-thinking place to live is strengthened by its green initiatives and easy access.

Evanston is the best place to live in Illinois for people who want a mix of suburban comfort and city excitement. It’s more than just a place to live; it’s a place that offers growth and new experiences. You can live, learn, and connect with other people in this city in deep and fulfilling ways.

Located along Lake Michigan's shoreline, Evanston is a treasure.
Located along Lake Michigan’s shoreline, Evanston is a treasure.

5. Hinsdale

The green streets of Hinsdale offer elegance and charm. Historic homes and modern conveniences come together to make a lifestyle that is hard to beat. This town is a peaceful escape from the busy city life. It is famous for its beautiful architecture and wealthy residents. It’s one of the good places to live in Illinois, where elegance and beauty are a way of life.

There is a strong dedication to family life that shows in the great educational opportunities here. Schools in Hinsdale are popular for doing great work in the classroom and setting kids up for future success. People in the town are also proud of its lovely parks and other outdoor areas that encourage people of all ages to live healthy, active lives.

People who live there enjoy a lively center area with unique shops, high-end restaurants, and cultural events that show how serious the community is about its standards. Because it’s so easy to get to Chicago’s city center by public transportation, Hinsdale is a great place for workers who want a quiet place to live close to city amenities.

One of the best Illinois cities, Hinsdale is more than just a place to live. It’s a place to enjoy life’s finest moments. In this town, you can get a taste of the good life in a setting that is classic and beautiful.

Hinsdale's verdant avenues exude grace and charm.
Hinsdale’s verdant avenues exude grace and charm.

6. Inverness

The roads that lead to Inverness are curvy and go up and down hills. This community combines luxury and nature to create an unbeatable place to live. The large lots give each person their own private haven, and the sense of community makes sure that no one feels alone. It is one of the best areas to live in Illinois because it has both space and beauty.

The village is dedicated to keeping the environment lush and natural, which can be seen in the well-kept parks and nature areas that are a haven for people who love being outside. The nearby golf courses are not only a golfer’s dream, but they also add to the beauty of the area by being green places.

People in Inverness care about their safety, privacy, and overall quality of life, so it’s more than just a pretty place to live. There are some great schools in the area that focus on giving kids a great education in a caring atmosphere.

People who live in Inverness enjoy the rare luxury of privacy without giving up ease, as it is easy to get to nearby cities. Inverness is a nice part of Illinois to live in because of this balance; the busyness of the city is far away in this quiet town.

Curving roads wind up and down hills into Inverness.
Curving roads wind up and down hills into Inverness.

7. Kildeer

In the embrace of nature and the lap of luxury, Kildeer presents an idyllic setting for those who seek the quieter side of Illinois. With expansive lots and custom-built homes, residents here enjoy a sense of freedom and space that’s hard to find elsewhere. Kildeer is celebrated for its commitment to preserving its natural beauty, making it one of the great places to live in Illinois.

The village’s retail and dining scenes are a collection of carefully curated experiences, with local boutiques and restaurants offering unique finds and flavors. This attention to detail is mirrored in the community’s approach to life, where quality always trumps quantity.

For families, the educational landscape is impressive, with schools that promise a comprehensive and enriching education. The emphasis on academic and extracurricular excellence is palpable throughout the community.

Kildeer may offer a retreat from the urban rush, but it also provides all the conveniences one could need, affirming its status as the best place to live in Illinois. It’s a community that offers a harmonious blend of pastoral beauty and modern living.

If one is looking for a more tranquil aspect of Illinois, Kildeer offers a picturesque environment.
If one is looking for a more tranquil aspect of Illinois, Kildeer offers a picturesque environment.

8. Lincolnshire

Greeted by tree-lined avenues and a welcoming community, Lincolnshire stands as a beacon of suburban excellence. This village, with its harmonious blend of residential charm and entrepreneurial spirit, offers a lifestyle coveted by many. It’s a place where the pursuit of happiness finds its home, earning Lincolnshire a spot among Illinois’s best places to live.

Residents here are privy to a slate of amenities that cater to a variety of interests and needs. From the sprawling parks to the family-friendly events, there’s a palpable sense of belonging that permeates the air. The local theater, with its rich array of performances, adds a cultural flair to village life, ensuring there’s never a dull moment.

The schools in Lincolnshire are a beacon of educational excellence, where young minds are nurtured to their full potential. This commitment to learning is a cornerstone of the community, reflecting the value placed on growth and development.

With its strategic location, offering easy access to Chicago while retaining its serene character, Lincolnshire is indeed one of the most livable cities in Illinois. It’s a village that doesn’t just offer a place to live but a place to thrive.

Lincolnshire is a model suburban neighborhood, greeted with tree-lined avenues and a friendly atmosphere.
Lincolnshire is a model suburban neighborhood, greeted with tree-lined avenues and a friendly atmosphere.

9. Lisle

Nestled within the vibrant DuPage County, Lisle emerges as a community where natural beauty and progress dance in harmony. The Morton Arboretum anchors the town, offering a sprawling canvas of greenery that invites exploration and tranquility. This dedication to environmental splendor positions Lisle as one of the best cities to live in Illinois, where nature’s call is heeded with reverence.

The village thrives on innovation and education, with renowned institutions fostering a culture of knowledge and advancement. The local schools reflect this ethos, providing educational experiences that are both enriching and inspiring.

Community events in Lisle are not mere gatherings; they are celebrations of the village’s diverse and dynamic spirit. From the annual Eyes to the Skies hot air balloon festival to the bustling downtown markets, there’s an infectious energy that encourages connection and enjoyment.

Lisle represents a blend of pastoral beauty and modern convenience, making it a beacon for those pondering what are the best places to live in Illinois. It’s a locale that promises a rich quality of life, where every day is an opportunity to embrace the best of both worlds.

Lisle is revealed as a village where advancement and the natural beauty coexist together.
Lisle is revealed as a village where advancement and the natural beauty coexist together.

10. Long Grove

Step into Long Grove, and you’ll find yourself in a village that cherishes its historical roots while fostering a close-knit community. It’s a place where the past is not just remembered but celebrated through its iconic covered bridge and charming downtown. This reverence for heritage, combined with a vibrant present, makes Long Grove one of the best Illinois towns to live.

The community calendar is brimming with events that showcase local talent and bring residents together, from the famed chocolate festival to the seasonal farmers’ market. These gatherings are not just social affairs but a reflection of the village’s soul, where every face is familiar and every moment is treasured.

Education in Long Grove is a priority, with schools that are recognized for their commitment to excellence. The village’s educational institutions are not just buildings but beacons of learning that illuminate the paths of their students.

For those seeking a life that’s enriched by tradition and community, Long Grove stands out as a place to move in Illinois. It’s more than a place to live; it’s a place where life is lived well, and memories are made to last.

The village of Long Grove values its past while promoting a tight-knit neighborhood.
The village of Long Grove values its past while promoting a tight-knit neighborhood.

11. Naperville

Imagine a city where innovation meets community spirit, where the buzz of enterprise matches the tranquility of river walks. Welcome to Naperville, a city that’s consistently among the top cities in Illinois to live. It’s a place where families, students, and professionals alike find common ground in the pursuit of a high-quality life.

The heart of Naperville beats around its vibrant downtown, a tapestry of shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues that cater to every taste and occasion. The Riverwalk, with its picturesque paths and public art, offers a peaceful respite, a place to recharge and reconnect.

Education here is second to none, with schools that rank among the nation’s best, nurturing the next generation of leaders and thinkers. The city’s commitment to learning extends beyond the classroom, with community programs that enrich minds of all ages.

Naperville isn’t just a city; it’s a community that embodies the best of suburban living with a cosmopolitan flair, making it the best city to live in Illinois for those who want it all. It’s a city that doesn’t just welcome you; it inspires you to put down roots and flourish.

Naperville is a city that is frequently listed as one of the best places to live in Illinois.
Naperville is a city that is frequently listed as one of the best places to live in Illinois.

12. Western Springs

Discover Western Springs, a village where community and quality of life are woven into the very fabric of its identity. This hidden gem offers a serene escape from the hustle of city life, yet vibrates with a friendly, energetic spirit. It’s a locale that proudly stands as one of the best Illinois cities for those who appreciate a tight-knit community vibe.

The village center, with its quaint architecture and welcoming storefronts, invites leisurely strolls and impromptu conversations. Here, every shop and café have a story, and the locals are more than willing to share them.

Schools in Western Springs are the heart of the community, providing a nurturing environment that focuses on academic excellence and personal growth. It’s a place where education is a shared journey, not just a destination.

Living in Western Springs means enjoying the charm of small-town living with the convenience of the city within reach, making it a nice city to live in Illinois. It’s a village that offers a warm embrace to all who choose to call it home.

Explore Western Springs, a village whose identity is intertwined with community and a high standard of living.
Explore Western Springs, a village whose identity is intertwined with community and a high standard of living.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About the Best Places to Live in Illinois    

Want to know where to live in Illinois? Here are some questions that come up often regarding the best neighborhoods.

What part of Illinois is good to live in?

Certainly, Illinois offers a diverse array of locales that cater to different lifestyles and preferences. Here are some of the best parts of the state to consider calling home:

  • Chicagoland Suburbs: With top-notch schools, ample amenities, and a sense of community, suburbs like Naperville and Evanston are among the best areas to live in Illinois.
  • College Towns: Urbana-Champaign, home to the University of Illinois, offers a vibrant cultural scene and a youthful atmosphere.
  • River Cities: Places like Peoria on the Illinois River provide scenic beauty and a slower pace of life. It also offers a strong sense of local history.
  • Southern Illinois: For those who love nature. The rolling hills and wine country near Shawnee National Forest offer a peaceful retreat.

What is the #1 city in Illinois?

The #1 city in Illinois often varies depending on the criteria used. This includes the quality of life, employment opportunities, education, and personal preferences. However, consistently at the top of many lists is Naperville. This city is famous for its:

  • Exceptional public schools, often rated among the best in the state.
  • Low crime rates, contributing to a feeling of safety among its residents.
  • Vibrant community with a wealth of amenities, including parks, libraries, and a charming downtown area.
  • Strong economic base with diverse job opportunities.

Naperville exemplifies a balance of suburban charm and urban sophistication, making it not just a great place to live in Illinois but also a community that many are proud to call home.

What is the cheapest city in Illinois?

When it comes to affordability, the cheapest city in Illinois is often a subject of interest for many. Based on cost of living, housing affordability, and general expenses, Decatur stands out as a particularly budget-friendly option. Here’s why:

  • Housing costs in Decatur are significantly lower than the national average, making it accessible for homebuyers and renters alike.
  • The overall cost of living is also lower, from groceries to utilities, which can be a relief to the wallet.
  • Despite its affordability, Decatur offers a range of amenities and a rich cultural scene, including museums and theaters.

Decatur represents a blend of economic practicality and quality living, marking it as one of the nicest parts of Illinois for those looking to stretch their dollars further.

Exploring Illinois' top places to live reveals the state's vibrant and diverse environment.
Exploring Illinois’ top places to live reveals the state’s vibrant and diverse environment.

Where is the safest place to live in Illinois?

The safest place to live in Illinois is definitely Clarendon Hills, a small village in DuPage County. Here’s what contributes to its reputation:

  • Clarendon Hills boasts exceptionally low crime rates, with both violent and property crime rates well below the national average.
  • The village’s proactive approach to community policing and resident engagement helps maintain its safe environment.
  • The tight-knit community atmosphere means neighbors look out for one another, further enhancing safety.

This sense of security is one of the many reasons Clarendon Hills is one of Illinois’s best places to live. This is especially true for families and individuals seeking peace of mind.

Where is the cheapest place to live in Illinois?

The cheapest place to live in Illinois, where affordability meets quality of life, is in smaller towns and cities. Granite City is frequently notable for its cost-effectiveness. Here’s why:

  • The cost of housing in Granite City is considerably lower than the Illinois average, making it an attractive option for homebuyers and renters.
  • General living expenses, such as groceries, healthcare, and utilities, tend to be more affordable here.
  • Despite its affordability, Granite City offers a solid sense of community and access to the amenities of the nearby St. Louis metropolitan area.

Granite City stands out as a place where economic practicality does not come at the expense of community values, making it one of the best Illinois towns to live for those on a budget.

What Illinois city has the highest crime rate?

When discussing crime rates in Illinois, it’s important to approach the topic with sensitivity and an understanding that crime statistics fluctuate over time and are due to a variety of factors. Historically, East St. Louis has been noted for having a high crime rate relative to both state and national averages. Here’s what to consider:

  • East St. Louis has faced economic challenges that contribute to higher crime rates, particularly in terms of violent crimes.
  • It’s also important to recognize the efforts by community leaders and residents to improve safety and reduce crime.
  • Crime statistics alone do not define a city, and East St. Louis is home to many residents committed to its betterment.

While it’s crucial to be aware of these statistics, it’s equally important to acknowledge the ongoing work to enhance safety and community well-being, which is a testament to the resilience of the city’s residents.

Final Thoughts on the Best Places to Live in Illinois

Exploring the best places to live in Illinois shows us how diverse and lively this state is. From busy areas near Chicago to quiet small towns, Illinois has many different places to call home. Each area has its own special feel and benefits, making Illinois a great state with something for everyone.

Illinois is not just a place to live; it’s a community to join. It has great schools in Naperville, affordable living in Granite City, and safety in Clarendon Hills. Every place shows Illinois’s promise for a good life.

If you’re thinking of moving, Illinois has many options to fit what you’re looking for. The best place to live in Illinois matches what you want with what each area offers. It’s about finding where you belong.

To sum up, looking for the best place in Illinois means finding where your story fits. Illinois has many choices, each ready to be your new home. It’s a state full of different places, waiting for you to start your next chapter.

The top places to live in Illinois right now
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